On World Cancer Day, we commemorate not just the battle against cancer but also the victories—both big and small—that patients achieve in their journey towards healing. At Quincy Medical Group (QMG), a new addition to our Radiation Oncology department has brought forth a symbol of triumph and hope — the celebration bell.
Nicole Taylor, RN Coordinator for Radiation Oncology at the QMG Cancer Institute, recognized the profound impact of celebrating the completion of cancer treatment. Inspired by the touching bell ceremonies in the Medical Oncology department, Taylor and the Radiation Oncology team sought to extend this tradition to Radiation Oncology patients.
“We have always found the ceremonies to be a very special moment for patients to celebrate their accomplishment,” Taylor shared. “Whether it’s a patient fighting to cure their cancer, or a palliative patient receiving treatment to relieve symptoms of their cancer, we want all our patients to have a special moment to celebrate this accomplishment with their care team and loved ones.”
The introduction of the bell in the Radiation Oncology department was made possible through the generosity of Project Bell, a non-profit organization founded by Isabella and Alexa, two sisters whose mother underwent radiation treatment. Witnessing the emotional impact of bell-ringing ceremonies on their mother and other patients, the sisters embarked on a mission to provide bells to cancer facilities worldwide.
For Taylor, the addition of the bell is deeply meaningful, “I find it incredibly rewarding to witness patients celebrate milestones in their cancer journey. During their time with us, we get the opportunity to develop special relationships with our patients. Watching them celebrate their accomplishments reminds me of why I love my job and how impactful our work is.”
The bell embodies the resilience and strength of patients like Richard Myers, who recently completed his radiation treatment at QMG. Richard’s battle against cancer began when he was diagnosed with head and neck cancer in the Fall of 2023.
Supported by his wife, Paula, and the medical team at QMG, who he calls “wonderful,” Richard began his journey in the fight against cancer.
In July, Richard noticed swelling in his neck and scheduled an appointment with his primary care provider, Dr. Sebastian Baginski, at the QMG Pittsfield Clinic. Following a CT scan, a tumor was discovered. Richard was then referred to QMG ENT Physician Dr. Paul Conrad, who conducted a biopsy that revealed a cancer diagnosis. Subsequently, he was directed to a specialist at Washington University in St. Louis, where on November 16th, Richard underwent surgery to remove the tumor and lymph nodes. Following the surgery, he was placed on a temporary feeding tube to aid in his recovery process.
Hailing from Rockford, IL, the Myers family sought a healthcare team nearby to support them through their journey. It was at QMG that they discovered the expertise and care of QMG Radiation Oncologist Dr. Daniel Ferraro and QMG Medical Oncologist Dr. Raymond Smith. Both, along with their teams at the QMG Cancer Institute, guided the Myers family through their medical treatments and provided them with the compassionate care they needed during this difficult time.
“We are so thankful for Washington University and for Barnes-Jewish Hospital and everything they did for him. Paula shared. “Richard had the consultations in St. Louis, but we chose to come here because it’s closer to home. It’s only 45 minutes from home versus two hours from home. And we are so thankful that this is available here.”
Richard underwent surgery in St. Louis and 30 radiation treatments under the care of Dr. Ferraro and the Radiation Oncology team at QMG.
“We love Dr. Ferraro, love him. We always say we wouldn’t wish this on your worst enemy, but we’re just thankful. We just know that prayers are surrounding us and we’re thankful for everybody’s support,” said Paula.
As he looked forward to his last radiation treatment, he teased, “I told everyone here that I would come in on my last day hopping and skipping on my way back to treatment.”
On February 1, he marked his final radiation treatment with the triumphant ring of the bell—a moment filled with relief and joy for Richard and his family. Reflecting on his journey, Richard expressed gratitude for the compassionate care he received and the support of his medical caregivers.
Looking ahead, Richard eagerly anticipates returning to work and savoring his first “real” meal. With the nature of Richard’s cancer, his diet has been limited to protein drinks and occasional fluids.
“We’re going to take him and get him the biggest steak we can buy him,” Paula said with a smile. “As soon as he feels like he’s able to eat, he’s ready for it. That’ll be a celebration for sure.”